This story originally appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review. It is republished here as part of Ecosystem Marketplace’s partnership with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.
The President of the United States can’t repeal a law like the Clean Water Act, but the Trump Administration is going ahead with plans to undermine the CWA by severely limiting the long-evolving rules that underpin it. It’s the latest episode of a saga that we have been covering since early last year.
Deforestation was supposed to be cut in half between 2014 and 2020, with 150 million hectares of land being restored. Instead, deforestation has surged 43 percent, according to a new report released on the eve of a global climate summit in New York.
It’s no coincidence that indigenous and traditional communities control one-third of the world’s remaining tropical forests, for these groups have long managed their forests in ways that provide sustenance without destroying the forest itself. To end deforestation, we must invest in them and their way of life.
Farming and forestry account for nearly a quarter of all the greenhouse gas emissions generated by man, and deforestation of tropical forests accounts for half of this. To end deforestation, we must find solutions to make conservation of forests financially viable, and REDD+ is a key part of that.
Deforestation is a classic “wicked problem” with no easy solutions. REDD+ has been conceived to be the master of this problem. In this new series, we’ll look whether REDD+ has delivered on the early hopes, how it is implemented in countries, what works, what doesn’t – and of course, how it could still become a story of success.
Tropical forests are our first line of defense against climate change, and the Tropical Forest Standard creates a blueprint through which industries can offset part of their carbon emissions by paying countries in the tropics to save trees. It could funnel $1 billion towards reducing tropical deforestation in the next 10 years.
Republican lawmakers have been reticent about directly attacking popular laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act, but the Trump Administration has chosen to undermine them by stealth – specifically by making changes to the rules it creates for implementing them. A new change to the Endangered Species Act aims to make the law more business-friendly, but chances are it will only be friendly to a few businesses, like mining and logging.
The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on land use and climate change reveals seven important things to take note of on the relationship between forests and climate change.
Ranchers and farmers earn their livelihoods managing land in ways that deliver goods and services the rest of us are willing to pay for. Far too many of them, however, have not yet learned about programs that generate significant new income from their operations, along with clean air, clean water, and biodiversity – healthy ecosystems, which benefit us all.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its long-waited Special Report on Climate Change and Land this morning. Written by 107 authors drawing on more than 7,000 scientific publications, the report is a complex compendium of scientific knowledge with a simple core message: to end climate change, we must eat less meat and waste less food.
Natural climate solutions are finally beginning to get the kind of media attention they need, but that can be a double-edged chainsaw if certain nuances are lost. We take stock of the last few months’ coverage in our latest edition of the EM Insights Newsletter, which went out this morning.
Our forests, wetlands, urban green spaces, and sustainably-managed farms and ranches provide clean and reliable water for most of the world’s urbanites, yet they are often treated as little more than scenic intervals between cities. To save them, we should view them as real assets, just as valuable as our roads, dams, levees, and wastewater treatment plants, argues Jan Cassen of the Forest Trends Water Initiative.
Natural climate solutions are key to meeting the climate challenge, but scaling them up requires rigorous accounting for the way our management of forests, farms, and fields impacts greenhouse gas emissions. That will be a key focus of year-end climate talks in Santiago, Chile – and of a new global architecture to be unveiled on Monday.
The Accountability Framework aims to provide a global consensus on how to define a forest and how to track the impact that commodity companies have on deforestation the world. Launched in June, the Framework could have major implications for the way we manage our forests, farms, and fields.
Carbon market critiques always seem to ask whether these mechanisms have solved the climate crisis, and the answer is always a decisive “No.” That, however, puts the onus on one mechanism instead of on society and detracts from the real question: namely, “Is there any way to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement without protecting the world’s forests?” This leads to another “No,” but with other implications.
Natural climate solutions can get us one-third of the way to meeting the Paris Agreement’s 2-degree target, but they draw just 3 percent of climate finance. We can change that by developing a new financial architecture that recognizes nature as an asset class, and New Forests’ CEO David Brand says forestry’s evolution as an asset class can inform that development.
Major media are finally waking up to the role that trees can play in slowing and even reversing climate change, and that’s great. Unfortunately, most still seem oblivious to mechanisms emerging to not only plant trees but saving forests and support farmers.
The climate challenge is complex, and so are the solutions emerging for meeting it. Unfortunately, the same sloppy reporting that got us into this mess is now threatening to keep us here, says Ecosystem Marketplace editor Steve Zwick and COTAP founder Tim Whitley.
Utility regulators from a range of US states are questioning the wisdom of investing in new natural gas facilities, which look increasingly risky compared to low-cost wind and solar projects. Here’s a look at the economics behind these decisions.
Hundreds of corporations say they want to reduce their impact on forests, and many actually make good on that claim. Most, however, say haven’t been able to do so because every NGO seems to have its own definition of deforestation. That changed with the arrival of the Accountability Framework two weeks ago, and a Wednesday webinar will explore the role of investors in driving corporate action.
Commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement aren’t yet deep enough to avoid a climate catastrophe, but more and more countries and companies are either contemplating or committing to carbon neutrality by a specific date in the future. A new analysis shows that 16 percent of the global economy could soon be covered by net-zero commitments.
The European Council has failed to put a date on its carbon neutrality pledge after four countries – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary and Poland – pushed back against the rest of the block. Poland says it will only sign on if it can clearly be compensated for economic losses.
Two weeks of UN climate talks opened today in the former German capital of Bonn, with the 50th meetings of both the Subsidiary Body for Implementation and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, as well as a two-day workshop on agriculture within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the inaugural meeting of the Facilitative Working Group of the local communities and indigenous peoples platform.
Twenty years ago, the IPCC warned that global warming would melt arctic ice, releasing methane that drives up temperatures faster and faster. It’s a nightmare scenario that mainstream media dismissed as something akin to apocalyptic fiction, but now it’s here. Nature-based solutions may still be able to help us avert the worst effects, but are we willing to pay for them?
Some of the world’s most high-profile companies have committed to purging deforestation from their commodity supply chains, but they amount to just 8 percent of global companies involved in the production of commodities associated with deforestation, and a staggering 44 percent of such companies have made no public commitments to harvest commodities sustainably. New analysis from Ceres and Supply Change aims to address that.
Renewable energy costs have plunged in the past decade, but we’re still trillions shy of meeting the climate challenge. Carbon taxes will drive down emissions and fund solutions, while a general tax will do the latter but not the former. A new proposal calls for a voluntary surcharge on savings to get money flowing now, before it’s too late.
Mainstream media are finally coming to terms with the enormity of the climate challenge, but their shift from complacency to panic mode may leave people feeling helpless. To implement real change, they need to focus more on solutions, argue these two linguists.
For decades, palm oil companies got big by being bad – specifically, by chopping forests to make way for oil palm plantations. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was created in 2004 to change that, and there’s mounting evidence it may be working. New research of RSPO members outperforms shares of non-members by 25 percent, just as a new index of RSPO members launches.
The generally-accepted social cost of carbon is roughly $100 per ton of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but voluntary carbon prices rarely top $10 per ton. New research shows that a price of just $20 per ton can dramatically slow deforestation, especially in Africa, and mop up nearly 6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide.
Everyone agrees that we must save the world’s forests if we’re to end climate change, but how to get there? One cluster of tools involves using carbon finance to keep forests alive, and a ProPublica piece critical of such efforts sparked a swirl of reactions, including one in these pages. EDF’s Steve Schwartzman argues that the critique failed to adequately distinguish between isolated projects and jurisdiction-wide programs.
Mainstream media outlets have been congratulating themselves of late for becoming just 20 years too late on climate change, and now the same institutions that have consistently failed to cover the enormity of the challenge are failing to cover the myriad interlocking solutions. This week, ProPublica became the latest outlet to blow it
Climate change is finally beginning to get the media attention it deserves, reviving in the process dormant debates over how to deal with it. Most economists argue that the most effective way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is to make emitters pay for the damage they cause. Today we look back to what happened when the University of Chicago resurrected its most famous economist to see how he proposed dealing with environmental catastrophes.
US President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently reached across the political divide to agree to spend up to $2 trillion to fix America’s battered infrastructure. That infrastructure deal has yet to be constructed. But it should include investments in green infrastructure – not just gray.
Washington state Governor Jay Inslee has built his entire campaign on climate change, and today he unveiled his “Evergreen Economy” proposal to redirect more than two dozen existing US programs towards the climate challenge. Details remain scarce, but here is what we know about how the plan impacts the country’s forests, farms, and fields.
Climate-smart agriculture and natural climate solutions are key to meeting the climate challenge, but so is helping farmers implement technologies that can help them withstand the changes ahead. A new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization identifies the greatest risks to our food supply and how we can best address them.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has updated the guidance it provides to governments for measuring its greenhouse-gas emissions, including flows of carbon into and out of land systems.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says the Amazon is Brazil’s to exploit, and the world should stop meddling in it. He’s wrong, but the resentment that thrust him into office has a history, and it’s one more of us must acknowledge if we’re to save the “lungs of the planet.”
Research shows we can get 37 percent of the way to meeting the Paris Climate Agreement’s 2-degree target by improving the way we manage forests, farms, and fields, and carbon markets offer a way of funneling money into these activities. Here’s where markets stand now, and how we move them forward quickly.
California’s Climate Action Reserve has recognized Ecosystem Marketplace Program Manager Kelley Hamrick with its “Climate Action Reserve Recognizing Our Team” (CARROT) Award. She has authored or co-authored over 15 reports, including our flagship annual reports on the State of Private Investment in Conservation and the State of Voluntary Carbon Markets.
A key UN body has just aggregated all known research on biodiversity loss, including knowledge gleaned from indigenous peoples, and the results are devastating: more than 20 percent of known plant and animal species have disappeared in the last century, while more are disappearing daily. The result is a grave threat to our entire food system. But therein lies our salvation.
His extremist policies have earned Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro the nickname “Tropical Trump”, but his plan to shift indigenous protection to the agribusiness-aligned Ministry of Environment has been shot down by opposition leaders and the country’s Supreme Court.
US President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seem to agree on one thing: namely, the sad state of US infrastructure. Yesterday, they agreed need to spend up to $2 trillion fixing it. This is an opportunity not just to build roads, but to create jobs and end climate change.
Earth is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction, with literally dozens of species disappearing every day. Against this background, scientists are meeting in Paris to finalize the first global scientific stock-taking of biodiversity since 2005.
Companies around the world have pledged to end deforestation by 2020, but the world lost enough tropical forests to cover all of Belgium in 2018. Put another way: tropical forests are disappearing at a rate of 30 football fields per minute.
The Green New Deal Resolution may have failed in the Senate, but it’s spawned a flurry of new proposals and revived talk of a national price on carbon. Tim Whitley of Carbon Offsets to Alleviate Poverty (COTAP) explains why that really is a very big deal.
Earth Day began a half-century ago as part of an effort to help college students understand the importance of ecology. Such education is still critical if we’re to meet the climate challenge, so we’re using this day to shine a light on a few key tools for reversing climate change.
The Green New Deal may have failed in the Senate, but Democrats and even some Republicans are introducing legislation to address climate change, and the emerging targets can’t be achieved without some form of carbon pricing. That means the revival of an old debate, and possibly the resurrection of some old myths. Here are the old myths, together with findings showing why they belong on the scrapheap of alternative facts.
As an environmental scientist, Tim Male learned how to restore degraded ecosystems. As an elected councilman, he learned how to pay for them. Finally, as an adviser to the Obama White House, he got to see nationally what works, what doesn’t, and why. Here’s why he believes that “pay for success” models can ratchet up restoration and keep down costs.